With No. 15 Florida on a bye this week, I am going to take the time to decipher the Gators’ performance through its first six games. This will be a four-part series focusing on a different aspect of the team each day. First up: The Offense.
Total offense: 426.5 yards/game (seventh in SEC; tied for 53rd nationally)
Passing offense: 244.7 yards/game (fifth in SEC; 50th nationally)
Rushing offense: 181.8 yards/game (eighth in SEC; 58th nationally)
Scoring offense: 30.3 points/game (eighth in SEC; 65th nationally)
Passing: Luke Del Rio (998 yards, 57.6 percent completion, seven touchdowns, five interceptions); Austin Appleby (470 yards, 61.1 percent completion, three touchdowns, one interception)
Rushing: Jordan Scarlett (375 yards, 5.6 yards/carry, five touchdowns); Lamical Perine (300 yards, 6.3 yards/carry, one touchdown)
Receiving: Antonio Callaway (23 catches, 399 yards, 17.4 yards/catch, two touchdowns); DeAndre Goolsby (25 catches, 215 yards, 8.6 yards/catch, one touchdown)
Luke Del Rio came in and put on a show during his first three weeks of the year. He averaged 252 yards per game and almost 7.5 yards per attempt and turned the ball over just two times.Then he took a low hit against North Texas, sustaining a sprained MCL in the process.
During Del Rio's two-game absence, Austin Appleby took over and the offense rose to great heights for about 30 minutes (21 points, 300 yards) before falling back down to mediocrity for the final 90 minutes (20 points, 318 yards).
Del Rio was shaky in his return on Saturday, completing less than half of his passes (18 of 38) and throwing three interceptions to just one touchdown. He rarely looked past his first read, underthrew a handful of downfield passes and took shots into double and triple coverage.
McElwain is still adamant about incorporating all five of his running backs in the offensive attack -- yes, that includes fifth-year senior Mark Herndon.
In reality, two should be receiving the bulk of the carries: Sophomore Jordan Scarlett and freshman Lamical Perine.
Scarlett has shown the most upside through the first six games. He ranks 12th among running backs in the SEC in average rushing (62.5 yards/game) and is the only running back among the top 15 in the conference to have at least one rushing touchdown in each of the past five games. The former St. Thomas Aquinas standout has also proven to be an above average pass blocker.
Perine’s potential has come in bursts this year. After fumbling the lone snap he took in his first collegiate game against UMass, the freshman jumped onto the scene with a 105-yard outing against Kentucky. On Saturday, the 5-11, 221-pound tailback averaged 9.64 yards per carry against Missouri, racking up 106 yards on the ground while tacking on 31 yards on a screen pass.
Combined, Scarlett and Perine are averaging 5.9 yards per rush on 115 carries through six games and have six runs that have gone for at least 20 yards.
The other three running backs (sophomore Jordan Cronkrite, junior Mark Thompson and Herndon) are averaging 4.4 yards each time they carry the ball (85 total attempts), with only two runs longer than 20 yards on the season.
Antonio Callaway is still Florida’s lone true proven playmaker at receiver. The 5-11, 197-pound sophomore and former Booker T. Washington standout leads Florida with 399 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 catches. He is tied for eighth in the league with six catches that have gone for at least 20 yards. However, most of that production came in his first three games of the season. In Florida’s last two outings -- wins against Vanderbilt and Missouri -- Callaway has mustered just six catches for 64 yards.
True freshman Tyrie Cleveland has emerged as a second valiant in the passing game opposite Callaway over the past three weeks.
His first career catch was a 36-yard grab down the right sideline against Tennessee that moved the Gators into the red zone and set up a touchdown run three plays later.
During Florida’s homecoming win against Missouri on Saturday, Cleveland came down with three catches, a career-high 79 yards and his first career touchdown.
Junior Brandon Powell (23 catches, 206 yards, two touchdowns) has shown some bright moments while playing mostly out of the slot.
At tight end, junior DeAndre Goolsby has become a valuable security blanket in the flat. He’s third among SEC tight ends in total catches (25) and receiving yards (215).
The group is still experiencing growing pains that date back to last season, but improvements have been made since last year when Florida gave up a nation-worst 45 sacks.
The line has allowed just six sacks through six games, which is tied with Texas A&M for the second-lowest in the SEC (Missouri leads the conference with just three sacks allowed), and has done a considerably improved job at creating running lanes compared to the 2015 season.
The trio of Martez Ivey, Cam Dillard and Tyler Jordan have done a passable job on the interior of the line. Left tackle David Sharpe, Florida’s most experienced lineman, has struggled at points over the last three weeks, failing to contain Tennessee’s Derek Barnett in Florida’s 38-28 loss to the Volunteers and committing three false start penalties on Saturday against Missouri. Freshman Jawaan Taylor, a 6-5, 340-pound tackle, has been a pleasant surprise since he shifted into the starting lineup.
At times this season, Florida’s offense has shown spurts of brilliance. Other times, it looked dreadful. Penalties and lack of focus have caused successful drives to stall and force Florida to either punt or settle for field goals. With a grueling five-game schedule to close out the season, the offense has work to do if Florida wants to continue a potential SEC Championship run.
Coming up on Tuesday: A look at Florida’s defense